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Israel, Palestinians Strike Truce Deal

Israel and the Palestinians concluded a successful summit Tuesday in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh by declaring a ceasefire with each other.
The summit, which brought together Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II, marked the highest level contact between the Palestinians and Israel in more than four years.
At the end of the one-day summit, Sharon said the two sides have agreed to put an end to over four years of violence which claimed thousands of lives.
"Israel will cease its military activities against all Palestinians anywhere," the prime minister said in a statement.
"Today we are moving toward goal of peaceful, dignified, quiet lives for all nations in the Middle East," Sharon said, adding "We hope that today we are starting a new period of hope."
"I assure you that we have a genuine intention to respect your right to live independently and in dignity. Israel has no desire to continue to govern over you and control your fate," Sharon said, referring to the roadmap peace plan or a two-state solution to the conflict accepted by both the Palestinians and Israel.
He also urged all parties concerned not to allow violence to sabotage the new opportunity for achieving just and comprehensive peace.
"We in Israel have to painfully wake up from our dreams, and we're determined to overcome all the obstacles which might stand in our path in order to realize the new chance which we have created," said Sharon.
In his speech, Palestinian National Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas echoed Sharon's announcement, declaring the Palestinians would cease all acts of violence against Israelis.
"We have agreed with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cease all acts of violence against the Israelis and the Palestinians wherever they are," Abbas said.
"Peace means the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state alongside Israel," he added.
Earlier, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told reporters that he welcomed the "determination and willingness" of both sides.
"We have seen today a positive step... the determination and willingness to work together seriously and sincerely to implement their mutual obligations, and take required measures to restore confidence," Mubarak told reporters.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said earlier that the four-way Mideast summit would play a decisive role in resuming the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
The summit "will be a strategic turning point in changing the stalled peace process," Gheit told Xinhua over the telephone, adding that it marks the beginning of the efforts to promote peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The Egyptian top diplomat also hoped Egypt can help push the process to move forward from the current point.
"Egypt has been working very hard to bring the points of the Palestinians and Israel closer and help the two sides strike a truce agreement."
Sharon's top aide Raanan Gissin said before the meeting that the Palestinians and Israel would issue separate declarations which will generate a bilateral result.
"Two separate statements will be made today. One by the Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, one by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon. The two statements are unilateral declarations, but they will end up with a bilateral result," Gissin told reporters.

(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2005)


Israel, Palestinians to Announce Ceasefire
Palestinians, Israelis Have Much to Talk About at Key Mideast Summit
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